I couldn’t have missed the Barata Phathi summit for anything. March 20th, 2010 will be marked in the political history of not only the BDP but the country. It’s a day that shook the country’s political landscape. I have never been shy to publicly show my support for the Barata Phathi faction for they stand for what I believe in.
It has never given me goose bumps to be associated with the faction. I mean, if Ian Khama the President can be aligned to a certain faction of the party, what would stop an ordinary, freethinking and brave member like me from going the factional way.
I was delighted to receive an invitation to attend the meeting because, having for a long time, advised Barata Phathi on the next course of action through my articles and the radio interview I had with Gabz Fm recently, I was running out of patience with their sickening inaction.
There we had people who are persecuted left, right and centre by their so-called leadership yet they are reluctant to free themselves from the chains of slavery. I went into that meeting with only one resolution. If Barata Phathi went into that meeting and failed to take a decisive action, I was going to raise my middle finger at them and desert their docile, fear-riddled faction.
I mean, I had already told Barata Phathi that they no longer had a political home in the BDP.I had already warned Barata Phathi that none of them will be allowed to stand for BDP primary elections come 2013.I pointed out to Barata Phathi that Khama will never smoke the peace pipe with them. Khama had shown his determination to destroy Barata Phathi to a point of no recognition.
Khama was so determined in his crusade to expel all of them from his party. Throughout my interventions, interactions and deliberations, I have always advised Barata Phathi that to end their misery, three options lay before them.
The first option was to resign from the BDP right away and join an existing political movement. Secondly, they could form a breakaway party and form some alliance with other existing political parties.
The third option was for Barata Phathi to remain in the BDP, shut up and conform to the dictates and tastes of Ian Khama. So, as I went to the Big Five Lodge my intention was, if Barata Phathi fail to heed any of the three options I laid before them, I would bolt out of their movement, quit their arrogant BDP and seek refugee somewhere else.
I was going to keep my distance and throw myself into fits of laughter every time Khama slapped and squeezed their painful parts. I just couldn’t understand why youthful and intelligent men and women could allow just one man to pull them around by their noses.
It pained me to see married men with families and children allow just one person to ruin the future of their children. It surprised me that Barata Phathi, despite the fact that they agreed with me when I said the BDP of Khama is no longer the one they joined many years ago, still they held tight to Khama’s trousers and cried for his tending like a child would to mommy leaving for work.
Barata Phathi must have read my mind on that fateful Saturday as they didn’t disappoint. Barata Phathi must have finally had enough with being relegated to second class members of the BDP or step children as Spencer Mogapi rightly observed in his column.
I repeat, the BDP of Khama does not stand for the values that made Barata Phathi join the party in the first place. Nowadays it’s no longer about what the people want but it’s all about what could please Khama.
Khama has become bigger than the institution he was only supposed to lead. We hear he was roped in to bring stability and unity to the party but he has since chosen to do the opposite. He has turned the party into his private enterprise where his word is final and his wishes take command. He has proved to be a ruler and not a leader. Infact he has chosen to be a bossy ruler.
The BDP is at crossroads. It was therefore imperative for Barata Phathi to choose a route that best suits their political aspirations and moral obligations. Barata Phathi should not regret their weekend decision. They should not be intimidated or threatened to back track on their mission.
Cowardice will not solve it for them. Infact Khama treats them the way he does because he has realized that cowardice reigns supreme in their faction. It will not be easy for Barata Phathi either.
But with prayer, determination ,perseverance ,dedication, patience, humility and the love for their country, I bet all can be possible.
There is going to be a great deal of witch hunting so as to demoralize and destabilize them. Many will lose their jobs. Some will be incarcerated for imaginative offences. Some ,God forbid, will be killed in the process.
But hey, I would take pride in being a martyr for my country than being a puppet for my intolerant leaders.
Barata Phathi should be ready to sacrifice their time, resources and even lives to advance and uphold their principles.
Khama has resources to travel the breadth and length of this country and tell the nation how rebellious Barata Phathi are. He flies and drives at government expense. He has Btv, Radio Botswana and Daily News to spread his side of the story and he surely will reach out to the masses. This should in no way deter Barata Phathi. With the little resources available to them, they should go out and explain their mission and vision to the nation.
Perhaps to explain how the idea of a breakaway party was formulated, I’ll briefly explain what transpired at the Barata Phathi meeting. I was there and I should know better. What was discussed there really deserves no secrecy. It was not a secret meeting of rebels planning a coup de tat. No. It was a meeting of friends who are concerned at the rate our country is losing it’s democratic credentials. It was a meeting of people exercising their constitutional right of association.
The meeting started with members who resigned from the central committee explaining why they no longer felt their existence in the committee added any value to the party. The central committee had become a rubber stamp to Khama’s decisions and what pained them the most was the fact that every time it would be announced decisions were taken by the central committee even where they differed with Khama. In short, they were as good as non committee members.
The next item was a briefing by the recently suspended members who up to now have not seen a report or even the names of people who investigated and found them guilty. So useless to Khama is the central committee in that even party Chairman and Treasurer do not have copies of the report. Only Khama knows the contents of the report and the identities of the investigators.
Here we have party members being investigated in secrecy without the courtesy of even telling the party Chairman about the investigators and their terms of reference. The culprits have not been interviewed to solicit their version of events. The people they are accused to have colluded with have also not been interviewed but we are told the report is already out and in the custody of Khama. Now if you think this is normal, please rush to Lobatse.
After all these updates and deliberations, there was a consensus amongst the delegates that a breakaway party be formed. It was the delegates and not the Executive Steering Committee who decided to form a new movement without necessarily being influenced by Sidney Pilane, Kabo Morwaeng, Kgosi Tawana, Wynter Mmolotsi, Gilbert Mangole,Mmoloki Raletobana, Botsalo Ntuane, Guma Moyo or anyone at the top table. Everyone spoke their mind and offered their resolutions and opinions. I have no doubt this move has caused a lot of panic in the BDP leadership. Should Khama ask for advice from the BDP elders, all they need to tell him is, “Re go boleletse.”